Job Growth in the Next Decade: Practical Medicine

May 10, 2011

Given the United States' recent economic troubles, it may seem odd to talk about job growth. Yet according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), certain professions may be looking at a worker shortage by 2018. In a four-part series, Study.com will take a look at the employment sectors where the BLS predicts the most opportunities. Up today: practical medical applications.

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By Eric Garneau

Through 2018, the healthcare industry is expected to offer job-seekers a number of opportunities. In addition to research-oriented careers like biomedical engineering and medical science, there are plenty of paths open for people who are interested in the medical profession but don't want to earn a Ph.D. or M.D. Many of these practice-based medical careers are available to job seekers who've simply earned a master's degree or bachelor's degree, or even just completed a certificate program.

practical medicine job growth physician

Physician Assistant

Physician assistants (PAs) occupy the realm between doctors and nurses. They work directly under licensed physicians or surgeons, caring for patients in diagnostic and therapeutic capacities. In some facilities, they're patients' primary caregivers.

All PAs have to complete a licensed education program. Additionally, many possess a bachelor's degree with courses in chemistry and biology. The BLS predicts 39% job growth in the field by 2018, due primarily to the fact that hospitals employ PAs to lighten physicians' workloads, thus saving money. However, PAs still make a pretty decent salary; in May 2009 the BLS reported that they earned a mean annual wage of $84,830.

Home Health Aide & Personal/Home Care Aide

Home health aides and personal/home care aides have similar jobs with one key difference. Both professions provide assistance to elderly, infirm or impaired individuals in their own dwellings, which includes preparing meals, shopping, doing laundry and providing companionship. However, home health aides also engage in medical tasks such as taking patient vital signs or administering medication.

The BLS predicts a 50% growth in job opportunities for health and home care aides by 2018. That's brought on by an increase in the country's population of the elderly. As of May 2009, the BLS noted that personal and home care aides earned an average annual salary of $20,280, while home health aides averaged $21,620. Most are trained for their tasks on the job.

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Skin Care Specialist

In the war against aging, skin care specialists occupy the front lines. Add that to the fact that vanity products are beginning to expand their market to men and you've got yourself a recipe for job growth. Also known as estheticians, skin care specialists treat their clients' bodies with facials, massages and related services to keep them looking and feeling fresh.

Because of their growing popularity, the BLS predicts a 38% increase in job openings by 2018. Per the BLS, skin care specialists earned a mean annual wage of $31,990 as of May 2009. Rhode Island, Utah and Arizona employed the most workers in the profession, while Washington, Colorado and California paid their workers the best. Skin care specialists can receive their training in vocational schools.

Athletic Trainer

Athletic trainers aren't the same as personal trainers; they're more like physical therapists in that they help in the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of muscle and bone injuries and diseases. You can often find them on the sidelines of sporting events, where they're the first on the scene to help injured players. They also work with their patients outside sporting arenas; in fact, in addition to helping athletes, they treat industrial workers, performing artists and more.

The BLS predicts a 37% growth in job opportunities by 2018, especially because their job is preventative in nature: by helping to stop injuries, athletic trainers lower healthcare costs. The BLS reported that as of May 2009 athletic trainers earned a mean annual salary of $44,020. The job requires at least a bachelor's degree, though many athletic trainers have earned a master's degree as well.

If you love sports but don't see yourself playing, here are some other careers you might explore.

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